Over the next few issues, I shall be bringing you tales from what is fast becoming one of the most popular events in the poker calendar. With 50K in chips, a slow clock and just nine hours a day play - the $25K buy-in WPT Championship at the Bellagio is poker heaven as far as tournaments go. And as with all major events nowadays, we saw many new faces and online qualifiers.
My first table would provide two such players. It was also soon clear that these two (in seat one and two) would be the action players. But even I was surprised at the plays that they came up with.
My first confrontation would be with seat one. After five of us had limped for 100, he decided to raise a further 1,000 from the small blind (SB). I was the only caller with 7-7. I liked the flop of Q-4-3. He bets 1,000 and I call. The turn is the 8d that puts out a flush on the board. He now bets 2,000 and I again call. I don't have a diamond here, but having seen the hands he has played with so far - I still liked my hand. The river brought the 5h and he declares all-in. All-IN? How big is his flush here? I obviously can't call. But when he turns over the Ah-2h for the wheel - I knew we were in for a treat. What a shame our table would be the first to break!
We then had seats one and two play an old classic. Well, it wasn't exactly Q-Q v A-K, but close enough. Seat one is UTG and makes it 1,000 to play, seat two calls and everyone else folds - obvious with respect to what must be two big hands here. They both seem to like the flop of 6d-2d-5c, two diamonds. A betting war erupts on the flop and then again after a 3 hits the turn. River is another 3 and seat one finally checks. He then calls a big bet. 6c-2c for seat one and Jd-3d for seat two.
Funny thing was, I nearly joined their party by calling with Td-5d. I don't know how much the hand would have cost me - but it would have served me right for even thinking of playing like them.
Kenna James, who was to my immediate right - turned and looked at me with pure shock on his face. But that was nothing compared to what would happen to him against the same player. Holding Kc-Kd, Kenna made a big raise after two players had limped. Seat one, on the BB, had no hesitation in calling - heads-up.
Kenna must have liked the flop of T-J-5, all clubs. But facing a bet from the BB who led out - Kenna played the hand with caution and just called. The turn brought a harmless 3d. This time Kenna is forced into calling a very big bet. The river was again a harmless looking 4d. Finally, we get a check and Kenna shows the K-K. Seat one begins to muck his hand and tells Kenna that K-K is good. He suddenly snatches his hand back from the edge of the muck and shows the T-4 of spades for two pair. A bemused Kenna had just lost over 17,000 in this hand. Maybe it was just as well that the table broke soon after as it was becoming too painful to watch. However, not before seat two managed to bluff almost 40,000 in a three-way pot against two players who obviously had big hands.
Kenna suggested that we would either double up early or go broke early. Perhaps it was just as well that the table broke soon after.
With such a slow structure - it's reasonable to conclude that the luck factor would be at a minimum for this event. However, the beats that I witnessed were really beyond belief as well as extremely undeserved.